“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seeking a sign

“But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.
Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood.
Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? …
Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved.
And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of My people.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.
For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
(Is. 57:3-5,10, 14-21).

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” (1Cor. 1:22,23).

It makes for ease of observation when we can divide the world up into groups, preferably two or three groups. Maybe that sound like over-simplying life, but here goes. There were the Pharisees and Sadducees; the religious and the vulgar; the legalist and the lawless; the conservative and the liberal, etc. Paul divided his world into two, Jews and Greeks.

Today, we can divide America into two groups: the atheist/secularist and the Bible-carrying/holy. I would contend that these are the modern Greeks and Jews, after the New Testament pattern. If all scripture is written for our admonition and instruction, then we must apply its characters to their modern-day counterparts. Otherwise, we aren’t studying the Bible to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth. Instead, we are making fairy tales out of sacred history rather than gleaning from it the eternal principles that never change.

The history of the Bible-carrying/holy group goes far back in the Bible. 750 B.C. we have recorded the above statement from Isaiah. People who want the security of God’s protection, yet have never bowed in submission to Him, will seek for some spurious alternative that looks like true service to God.

That kind of religion isn’t founded upon God and His promises to love us and to cherish us. It doesn’t seek out Him and His mercy; self-filled spurious religion grows weary of the effort to find God. Because it doesn’t seek Him with all the heart, it never finds Him. Neither does it result in faith and obedience to His Law, His blessings or His blessedness.

Spurious, false religion designs its own method to peace. It relies on emotion, feelings, excitement, and sensation. The stimulation that satisfies it is only a physical one. Thus, Isaiah’s words, “Thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved.” (Vs. 10). Of themselves, from their own imagination and emotional resource, they pleased themselves and brought on their mind a self-stimulation to relieve the grievous emptiness that came from neglect and separation from God. To facilitate this self-stimulation, an object, an icon, a carved stock of wood or stone, something to assist in the mental imagery, was used.

But, that kind of religion is a weariness of the flesh. Instead of receiving life from above, self is the spring of its life; self must be its Creator and Sustainer. Thus, self becomes its God, puffed up and proud. “Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way.”

This we find very applicable to the Third Angel’s message. Jeremiah said something that ties the two messages together, and forms the basis of Revelation’s angelic message. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary…. And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58,64).

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).

Lay Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Revelation on top each other, line upon line, and they all speak of the same experience—counterfeit religious worship, false service to God, devil-possession.

Isaiah continues, “Yet saidst thou not, There is no hope.” Despite their exhaustion, they refuse to give up and throw themselves down at Jesus’ feet; they refuse to be broken and fall on His breast as Jacob did. “Never give up!” is their stubborn, rebellious motto. They have no peace; violent conflict is their daily lot because when we don’t surrender to Jesus, we automatically default to Satan’s dominion. Yet, they will not relinquish hope in their self-manufactured worship.

Seeking a sign. Judaism, which resulted from the Babylonian captivity, was no better than the ancient form of idolatry. They both sought a sign; they both sought some form of physical stimulus. The only difference was that Judaism hid the outward idol of ancient times and substituted in its place the requirement of some supernatural manifestation—a miracle. Then they could worship the miracle instead of the God of love who gave the miraculous thing, and feel righteous that they weren’t guilty of their fathers’ past failings.

Jesus fed the thousands in Galilee, but the Jews didn’t get to see the miracle take place, so they demanded He cause manna to rain down like it had in Moses’ day. They had miracles every day from the Messiah, but they didn’t see them or their Messiah. His miracles didn’t appeal to the curious, the marvelous, and the flashy which attracts the heart not transformed by love and righteousness. Christ’s miracles were utilitarian in nature, and edifying to faith. Self could not be satisfied by His healings, His compassion on the multitude, His self-denying teachings.

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63). Yet they said in themselves, “There is hope in something better.”

So they left Him in search of some miracle that would satisfy their perverted, sin-loving natures.

Obedience to the truth as it is in Jesus will bring the peace we desire. Only Jesus can take away the chastisement of our peace; only He can fill the emptiness that burns in us from the inside, and flares out in self-centeredness and every kind of uncleanness. His truth will set us free. When He comes in, our sins flee away.

The post-Babylonian captivity Jews sought some kind of mental icon without the obvious carved idol. Today, whether its Mariolatry or Joseph Smitholatry in the Mormon church or Lutherolatry or Wesleyolatry, Mosesolatry with the Jews, or even Ellenolatry, as in Adventist circles, our only hope is in the Lord of the Old and New Testaments, coming to Him and studying Him and His Law.

He and His word are the only means to enter into eternal life in this life, through wrestling with Him and receiving His blessing, being broken, contrite, and born anew— “unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Winning the war

When the devil laughs he exults. This is because he is full of bitterness and pride. His vindictiveness is expressed in reproach and self-exaltation. Thus his laughter is full of boastful, hostile exulting. When the Lord laughs, He rejoices. He is full of joy and humility. His love and desire to uplift others above His own condition He expresses in encouragement and self-abasement. Thus He rejoices when He laughs. He laughs with us, while Satan laughs at us.

Now that we have made the distinction between Christ’s laughter and Satan’s, we can move to the next statement: He who laughs last laughs best.

The truth is that in the individual cases of sinners, Christ does not always laugh last, or best. All too often, the adversary has the last laugh. This is the sad fact of reality. Against the constant power that all heaven brings to save every soul, the controlling factor has ever been each person’s choices made for righteousness or for unrighteousness, for or against mercy, for love—with all its freedom and its obligations—or unbelief that God loves us.

As each choice is made for or against the foundation of God’s government, it leaves the soul wide open to the ownership of one of the two great powers contending for the supremacy of the human race.

In the case of each of those two great powers, and in each human case, there is the individual battle and there is the overall war. Many battles make up the whole war effort. Satan can win many battles but lose the war. And, Christ can likewise lose the war after winning many battles.

Neither general intends to lose a single battle, and especially so for the larger war over the soul. For Satan, winning the war means many things: more adherents of his so-called righteous cause against God’s Law; so that he doesn’t burn alone in the fires prepared for him and his angels; and so that while he is still alive, that he isn’t the only one miserable. And in his insane hatred of Christ and desire to ultimately win the big contest, he also hopes that his martyrdom will spawn a future and more successful and greater controversy that finally crushes the kingdom of righteousness.

For Christ, the royal son of God, winning the war means the rescue of the children He loves dearly; those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice of self, and the eternal safety of His father’s kingdom of truth and grace throughout the universe.

In many souls, the Son of God has lost many a battle and won the war. Samson lived a very profligate and willful life. But the Lord brought him enough pain and punishment that his self-will broke and he looked to God in the end of his life. King Manasseh caused blood to flow from one end of Jerusalem to the other. He hated Isaiah’s messages of reproof so much that he had him sawn in two. But his wickedness was arrested through the just vengeance of God’s providences. Healing in prison from his being dragged through the thickets of thorns and thistles, “he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,” and—amazing grace—“God was intreated of him…. So Manasseh slept with his fathers.” (2Chron. 33:12,19,20).

There is Jacob and King Solomon and King Nebuchadnezzar and Peter and a whole great starry cloud of witnesses to the Lord’s ability to convince a sinner away from eternal destruction. Ishmael led a bitter life. But, in the end, the example and lessons of his father Abraham germinated in his heart and he was converted.

Abraham’s early teachings had not been without effect upon Ishmael, but the influence of his wives resulted in establishing idolatry in his family. Separated from his father, and embittered by the strife and contention of a home destitute of the love and fear of God, Ishmael was driven to choose the wild, marauding life of the desert chief, “his hand” “against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” Genesis 16:12. In his latter days he repented of his evil ways and returned to his father’s God. PP p. 174.

“…And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Peace came to Ishmael’s soul, he calmed down, and the blessedness of the God of Abraham—his God—prospered the end of his life. Though the Son of God has had to endure our rebellious natures, He reads the secret longings of the heart and stays with us to the very end.

Even in the case of His key players, Moses, David, and Elijah, His punishment was strong and severe; yet in every case, His goal has not been “to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Lk.9:56). His severity has always been united with His goodness. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11).

Nevertheless, Satan has also lost many battles but won the war. Cain, Ham, Pharaoh, Balaam, the Amalekites, Gehazi, the priests of Baal, Kings Saul, Amon, and Zedekiah, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, all demonstrated the results of murmuring against God and choosing the enemy as master.

There was King Asa, who after a long reign of obedience to God rebelled in the end and died a lost man. Satan lost many battles over his soul, but won at the end of his life. Balaam had been the Lord’s prophet and his influence for good had been widespread; yet he began taking the glory to himself and cutting himself off from heaven and was finally guilty of masterminding the destruction of God’s church in the wilderness.

Many of the multitudes that followed Jesus and hung on His every gracious and authoritative word and loving deed, chose to put their trust in human leadership and in the corrupted belief system rabbis had taught them. In the end, they could not get past the traditions of Judaism that rewarded their self-indulgent preconception of a wrong Messiah. Finally they were heard shouting under the inspiration of the priests, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him…. We have no king but Caesar.” “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Lk. 23:21; Jn. 19:15; Matt. 27:25).

In many cases God has won the war; but more often than not, He has won many battles in the lives of His beloved children and lost the war in the end.

What’s it going to be for us? Have you gone astray from Him? Do you fear He has lost the war over you? If that fear is in you at all, it is evidence that He still has you in His hands.

He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance. SC p. 64.

Let’s let the goodness and mercy of God draw us to Him to be kept by His love. May our experience be David’s, who said,
“Mercy shall be built up for ever: Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens.” (Ps. 89:2).

“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” (Ps. 94:17-19).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Building our Tower of Babel

Do you ever feel stressed out? Anxious? Is everybody in your way, and going slow? Do you ever think you finally have a handle on the anxiety, and then one little thing sets it off again?

If you are like me, (and we all have the same makeup) your stress just might come from trying to build a tower of Babel. It takes a lot of work to make such a huge monstrosity! It doesn’t help when thousands of people are building one too, but no one communicates.

Why do I say “Tower of Babel” and not Eifel Tower or Washington Monument or Sears Tower? One monument to man is the same as another, I suppose. But the Babel Tower was the first of all the monuments, and full of significance.

We all know the story. About a hundred years after the great flood, Nimrod organized the children of Noah to build a city and a tower that would reach up to heaven. They were building it for a place to save themselves in case of another world-wide flood. But they were also building it as a trophy of human ingenuity. It was the first project which God wasn’t allowed to be part of. He wasn’t invited, neither did they want Him there.

So, He came down uninvited to personally confirm the rebellion and to personally crash the party. Who gave Him the right to crash the party? When people who profess righteousness stray from their King of righteousness, their King has the right to work to bring their loyalties back to Him. Also, He outright owns Earth and its future, despite Satan’s claims to it and its inhabitants.

In reality, the people willingly accepted slavery to Nimrod because they trusted his magnetic persona. They thus disconnected themselves from God, the God of peace, and the natural result of that disconnect with their loving Father would be unrest, anxiety, and the propensity to be quickly and easily frustrated. So, the Lord God confused their languages. Such a simply solution to inhibit rampant self-exaltation.

Immediately, the builders reached the boiling point and tempers flared. The apparently moral project suddenly showed its true colors. The people who professed dependence on God were really depending on self, running on their own steam, in full control, gods of their individual universes. Soon angry sinners splintered into a thousand directions.

Why do we stew? What causes that unnamed dread that steals our peace and happiness? What is it that saps us of our day’s energy by mid-morning, and leaves us weak and needing a picker-upper of some kind? It is that we are attempting to construct our life without God. We are on our own, either doing what He doesn’t want and going where He can’t go, or we are trying to be moral and ethical without Him.

Yes, it’s possible to be religious and still be living apart from the Lord. It happens to the vast majority of religious cases. In fact, the Bible says that the whole world will be building up Babel just before Jesus comes to destroy it all. “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:2).

The achievement-oriented, the ambitious, self-advertising, working hard to accomplish big things for the boss—most of these seem good, but even the best of them is self-exalting if a relationship with Jesus isn’t the big reason for doing it. If we are achieving just for the sake of achieving, our sinful fallen natures default to achieving for the sake of self-exaltation. Ambition and even the seemingly benign “do hard things” leads straight into self-worship if we aren’t doing it to gain a closer communion with Jesus. The Lord would rather us do small things for God with Him, than big things for God without Him.

He is the only good reason to work hard at anything—all for the purpose of walking with Jesus, cooperating with Jesus, leading others to Him, and sharing His love and righteousness. The battle is His. Sanctification is His work. Accomplishment is His work. Life is His work. Thus, we can rest.

Otherwise, life is full of frustration, anxiety, disease, misery, and then death.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36).

“I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Ps. 16:8,9).

The church’s feelings of infirmities

Wow. Listen to these promising words.

A Reformatory Movement

In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God’s people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God. I heard voices of thanksgiving and praise, and there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844.
Yet some refused to be converted. They were not willing to walk in God’s way, and when, in order that the work of God might be advanced, calls were made for freewill offerings, some clung selfishly to their earthly possessions. These covetous ones became separated from the company of believers.
9T p. 126.

Wouldn’t you like to be part of that great finale of this world? That would be truly exciting. Faith being born in hearts, minds and bodies throwing off the shackles of unbelief Satan has bound them down with. The power to become sons of God, and the liberty that comes with being children of the heavenly King!

Yet, why is it that we don’t get involved like we should? Why is it so hard to inspire the local congregation to participate in the work of the kingdom to come, which shall destroy and consume all of these earthly kingdoms, “and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44).

The same little lady writes of this.

An Appeal to Laymen

When a special effort is put forth by laborers of experience in a community where our own people live, there rests upon the believers in that field a most solemn obligation to do all in their power to open the way for the Lord to work. They should search their hearts prayerfully, and clear the King’s highway by putting away every sin that would hinder them from co-operating with God and with their brethren.
This has not always been fully understood. Satan has often brought in a spirit that has made it impossible for church members to discern opportunities for service. Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and to the advancement of His work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and faultfinding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they have grieved away the Spirit of God and have greatly retarded the work of God’s messengers.
This evil has been pointed out many times and in many places. Sometimes those who have indulged in a censorious, condemnatory spirit have repented and been converted. Then God has been able to use them to His name’s honor and glory.
We are living in a special period of this earth’s history. A great work must be done in a very short time, and every Christian is to act a part in sustaining this work. God is calling for men who will consecrate themselves to the work of soulsaving. When we begin to comprehend what a sacrifice Christ made in order to save a perishing world, there will be seen a mighty wrestling to save souls. Oh, that all our churches might see and realize the infinite sacrifice of Christ!
9T p. 125.

Laboring While Probation Lingers

The judgments of God are in the earth, and, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we must give the message of warning that He has entrusted to us. We must give this message quickly, line upon line, precept upon precept. Men will soon be forced to great decisions, and it is our duty to see that they are given an opportunity to understand the truth, that they may take their stand intelligently on the right side. The Lord calls upon His people to labor--labor earnestly and wisely--while probation lingers.
9T p. 126.

What can be done to enlist the full allegiance of the local church to be engaged in pressing forward the kingdom of grace and the warning of the Third angel’s message? As a member of the apathetic church I would like to present a few causes.

My gist of the common thought:
Its easy to fall into the idea that every revival of the past has faded, even revivals in the Bible. Why make an effort to start a big movement that is going to fizzle out in a few months? Why waste the manpower? Why bother? Even if the conference sends their best evangelist to help us, what’s going to happen after he leaves? We’ll fall right back into ineffective ministry, going through the motions.

This town has never changed, and never will. It has its big Baptist church and its big Methodists church and its big Catholic church. It has a few small churches—Pentecostal, Nazarene, and our SDA church. Our city will always be more interested in its baseball or footfall games, its local businesses, and its crime rate than it will be in preparing for Jesus to come. So why bother them? Just leave them be and lets just continue our existence as SDAs going through the motions Sabbath after Sabbath.

How can this attitude be changed?

Perhaps a 2-man team can work in the church a year in advance of an evangelistic series. The team will work among the members to buoy their faith, mingle in the neighborhood and the whole town at large and find opportunities to fix problems and bring individuals into faith in God. The team members can participate in every church event, befriending the children and youth, and adults who put their trust in them. They will pray together fervently with one purpose, to be used by heaven to turn around the apathy and unbelief of the people, to bring the people to true conversion, to a relationship with the living God who turns them into living stones.

One major tool of the team will be to help diverge the common mindset that righteousness comes by working. This fallacy has been the main cause of exhaustion toward heavenly things. How can a person have any strength to do the Lord’s work if they’ve spent all their energy on building their own tower of Babel so that God will approve of them?

Jesus sought to break the spell of infatuation which keeps men absorbed in earthly things. He placed the things of this life in their true relation, as subordinate to those of eternal interest. DA p. 254.

If this work could be done, how soon would the people of God be ready for His coming!

With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where “the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever;” where “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick,” and “the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.” Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 33:24; 65:19.100 Education, p. 271.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Groanings which cannot be uttered

He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, that refused to receive Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness, and sorrow so deep that it broke His heart. Every soul was precious in His eyes. DA p. 353.

Jesus gazes upon the scene, and the vast multitude hush their shouts, spellbound by the sudden vision of beauty. All eyes turn upon the Saviour, expecting to see in His countenance the admiration they themselves feel. But instead of this they behold a cloud of sorrow. They are surprised and disappointed to see His eyes fill with tears, and His body rock to and fro like a tree before the tempest, while a wail of anguish bursts from His quivering lips, as if from the depths of a broken heart. What a sight was this for angels to behold! Their loved Commander in an agony of tears! What a sight was this for the glad throng that with shouts of triumph and the waving of palm branches were escorting Him to the glorious city, where they fondly hoped He was about to reign! Jesus had wept at the grave of Lazarus, but it was in a godlike grief in sympathy with human woe. But this sudden sorrow was like a note of wailing in a grand triumphal chorus. In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel's King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony. DA p. 575.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He felt the rejection from those who lived in the city. They had held their walled capital up as if it were heaven itself, and yet refused Him in whose presence it is heaven, and the fullness of joy. They refused Him whom David their king had found to be the source of pleasure for evermore; they turned away from Him just as their fathers had all through their history. And now this was the time of their final visitation. Soon the grace of God which had overshadowed that city set on a hill would be taken away and God’s judgments would fall in the place of His favor.

This wasn’t the first time Jesus wept. He had wept every night as He prayed to His Father. In behalf of His disciples and of the larger circle of follower/disciples, for the weak and largely ignorant multitudes, and for the religious leaders, He had wept in deep groanings and tears. They turned down what He came to bring them, and many who did accept Him were so dull of comprehending His mission.

When they tried to make Him king after He had fed the thousands, He forced His disciples into their boat with a voice of authority and then “departed again into a mountain Himself alone.” (Jn. 6:15). There He unloaded His burden upon His Father. “Oh, Father, when will they understand the beauty of holiness I want to give them, and the blessedness of spiritual things? Oh, Father, when will they learn? Oh Father,... Oh Father...” With divine groanings, which His humanity could not utter He offered up strong cries and tears for His beloved twelve, even for the one who was almost a devil.

It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning that He was consoled and then walked out to the boat with its precious human cargo battling for their lives in the blackness on the angry waters of the Sea of Galilee. It was the comfort and encouragement which He received from His Father that made His body shine.

Moses showed us Jesus when he wept and prayed to the Lord his God, “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” (Ex. 32:31,32).

With Paul we how see our Lord travailed in birth until His Father was formed in the early Christians. (Gal. 4:19). And, like Moses and Paul, Christ’s heart grieved for Israel. “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom. 9:2,3).

David, inspired by the testimony of Jesus, had written, “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me…. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance…. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Ps. 42:3-5,8).

An account of Mrs. White indicates the same deep care and burden for God’s people which she laid at His feet with a breaking heart.

She has gotten up to write, Mrs. McKibbin thought. But then a voice crossed the quiet darkness between the two houses. Mrs. White was praying.
"Such a prayer I never heard," Mrs. McKibbin wrote years afterward. "She was praying first of all for the people of God; she was praying for everyone that knows this truth, that we might be true and that we might realize our responsibility to give it to others. Then she prayed for herself.
Angel Over Her Tent, p. 136.

Jeremiah had said, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jer. 9:1). Couldn’t Jesus say the same of His weeping for His people? Certainly, the Light that lightens every man is motivated by the same principles of loving-kindness and care for the people, with an intensity that even the prophets never knew.

Our High Priest knows the depths of our sorrows. “For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).

Let’s seek Him with our whole heart who has wept for us in Gethsemane and on the cross and every day of His ministry, both on Earth and in heaven.

Friday, February 20, 2009

All His benefits

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 68:19;116:12).

His protection, His care, His word of acceptance, His sunshine, His rain, His clothing, His shelter, His warmth, the beauty of His creation, His expansive deep space, His gift of human friendships, our children, our parents, His blessings ad infinitum.

He never stops giving. Life is His constant gift. Man cannot create it; he can only receive it. And God never stops giving it.

Yet, we can never claim them without the first of all His gifts—repentance. All those gifts are for our sanctification. But sanctification lies squarely upon justification. The only way to benefit from all His blessings is by first having come to Him for repentance with its automatic result, forgiveness.

All the beautiful, all the scientific, all the things that bless us materially and physiologically become a curse to us if we have not been humbled in the dust and repented of our sinfulness in the face of all His goodness toward us. Without contrition and justification we do to His goodness as the Canaanites did to His land flowing with milk and honey. We corrupt all of it.

The scientific we claim as discoveries our own great genius. The beautiful we consume upon our own lusts by worshipping the created things instead of the Creator of them all. The children or parents He blessed us with we worship and spoil and the great Giver of them receives not a single passing “Thanks.” Even the wonderful truths of the scriptures evolve into error as the unregenerate, unrepentant hearts introduce more and more false assumptions and assertions to justify their backslidden condition and continue their fantasy as part of God’s kingdom.

We can only read David’s psalms in the context of repentance and acceptance by heaven. Any other rendering of it is presumptuous, casual, and ultimately dismal. We have not come into His presence; He has not become real to us; He is not a real friend.

All the Bible promises of peace and rest and comfort apply not to those who have not surrendered to God. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9). He “deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” (Jas. 1:26).

Those precious promises are dangled out before the world as potential favor, contingent on conditions. They make up God’s call to a world in rebellion to come in to His city of refuge, the commonwealth of the Israel of God.

Every last promise is for the worst criminal. They are proffered to the vilest sinner who will acknowledge his condition before the holy Law of God. Will the pride break and submit and confess its great need? Or will it continue to resist until it is ground to powder from the consequences of sin? This one issue affects everyone from the proper halls of saints and aristocracy to the vomit-filled gutters and drug-infested skid row.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent.” (Acts 2:37,38).

Brethren and sisters, what shall we do about repentance and justification with God? Will we come to Him just as we are and receive from Him His greatest of all gifts?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The mystery of iniquity

There is no place for redemption in the market place. There is no place for redemption in the secular world. This is the sentiment of man.

Yet God says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Ps. 50:10-12).

How do we get to the condition where we usurp our Maker’s dominion for ourselves and discount even His existence? How can the Creator regain His place as owner and governor of creation in the mind of fallen man?

Sin—the mystery of iniquity usurps everything God has and is—sin, that mysterious principle, locked away for eons of time before Lucifer opened its container and freed it to poison the whole universe of intelligent life.

What is sin? Often its definition has been “separation from God.” But really separation from God is its result, the fruit of sin. What is sin? Sin is turning from serving a selfless Father to serving self.

Serving our God of self-sacrificing love leads the servant to be like Him. It attracts the whole being to the beauty of holiness; it involves the whole being in a self-forgetfulness like His—soul, mind, and body. Only in unselfish service to the only true and unselfish God can His creatures find their greatest happiness. This we see from the few glimpses of heaven, “And the four beasts … rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” (Rev. 4:8-11;5:1-14).

But sin, or the service of self, puts self and its wants on the throne. It intoxicates reason and distorts its judgment of reality. It immediately provides instant, amplified gratification, overpowering the mild, slow, quiet pleasures that holiness bring to the mind. It grabs hold of the brain and mind, and titillates them. Instantly God disappears in the flush of excitement, and His peace disappears with Him.

Self-service and self-forgetfulness are diametrically opposed and cannot for a moment co-exist. Sin, under the masterful hand of Satan, gains new territory—new adherents and new depths and fields of wickedness—on an efficient and accelerating and continual basis. Once introduced to an intelligent being of free moral choice, it spreads uncontrollably until it is all-pervasive. The mystery of sin lies in the very nature of freedom and power of choice. A huge potential for happiness comes at the creation of an intelligent life born in freedom; and an equally large potential for unhappiness comes with existence as well.

Now that sin has been opened to this fallen race, its intoxicating effect has utterly blinded the human mind to the need to the wholesale forgetfulness of self. Self-denial is a most noxious idea to man. Life must go on just for the sake of going on; I must exist just for the sake of existence. No higher purpose need be entertained. Therefore, if you get in my way, I can appropriately remove you either by destroying you psychologically, socially, or physically through murdering you.

Self has taken the throne and has become the object of full worship. Love of self is the engineer driving the locomotive of the will, and every ounce of power is leveraged to do the will of self. Its urges are unbounded, especially under the influence of Satan’s agent who stands on hand to inspire a multiplied force that upends reality and reason and results in wasting and destruction until its end is satisfied. Like the game of using a stick to keep a hoop rolling, satanic hosts continually add inertia to the principle of sin imbedded in the human makeup.

What can stop such a force for evil? What can reverse the momentum gained by the accumulated effects of six millennia of inherited wickedness in our natures? Only one thing can do what needs to be done. It must be invasive and bold. It must shake the soul to its foundation, break it down, and arrest its willfulness. It must harness our loyalty and rein us around with an all-powerful arm.

What are the mechanics of such a work? How does it operate? One element remains in every captive in the thralldom of sin. That element is love—the need to love and to be loved. Our Creator Father has not allowed Satan to rob us of that one vestige of God’s image in the human race. And here is where God works.

Through love He provokes us to righteousness and calls us away from our service to Satan and self. Self-sacrificing love, self-denying love, self-forgetting love has imbedded within it righteousness and the principle the dissolves the effects of sin and self-pleasing upon the will of fallen man. Through the beholding and study of this love, the call of sin and the desire for it slowly and completely disappear. Like the constant flow of rushing spring waters wear away the hardened stone, the majestic self-renouncing love washes away the confirmed petulance. Self-indulgence yields to self-denial. Self surrenders to service; pride bows in humility.

How does the God of love initiate such an amazing turnabout? The sacrificial victim. The innocent baby lamb or kid or calf or sparrow or dove which fell at the hand of the sinner gave the force of truth concerning sin. Their death shook sin off the throne of the evildoer, and broke his will toward destroying. The pained look in their eyes, their helpless cry of woe, the absence of hatred and recrimination toward the perpetrator of their death, knocked the pride and resistance from the transgressor as he saw the criminal nature of his act. All this our wise Elder Brother designed to redeem our lost loyalty toward holiness.

More than that, those animal sacrifices were only vague silhouettes of His own sacrifice, the true Sacrifice. In the purity and innocence of One with whom we can identify infinitely more readily than with a lamb or kid, we see Him in whom was a powerhouse of love toward the whole human race and its animal kingdom, and One who was perfectly self-denying and sinless.

Christ is the perfect object to regain our affection from sin. His cries of woe, His helpless look on the cross under His Father’s displeasure, His broken and bleeding body redeem us from self-destruction. Nothing else short of His suffering and death at our hand, nothing less than beholding what sin has cost, can peel off our fingers from their death-grip on self-pleasure and resolve the disease and death it spreads all around us. Only the burnt offering of the Son of God can redeem us from sin, when He poured out His soul unto death and laid down His own eternal existence to restore us to the eternal life we had lost to sin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Self-exaltation by proxy

Why applause? Why do God’s people applaud someone who has finished singing his heart out to the Lord? More often than not, following special music or a sacred concert, the congregation claps (I’ve even heard praises) to the musician or singer.

What does this say about the remnant church?

Praise no man; flatter no man; and permit no man to praise or flatter you. Satan will do enough of this work. Lose sight of the instrument, and think of Jesus. Praise the Lord. Give glory to God. Make melody to God in your hearts. Talk of the truth. Talk of the Christian's hope, the Christian's heaven.--Manuscript 8a, 1888. Ev. p. 630.

God does not send messengers to flatter the sinner. He delivers no message of peace to lull the unsanctified into fatal security. He lays heavy burdens upon the conscience of the wrongdoer, and pierces the soul with arrows of conviction. The ministering angels present to him the fearful judgments of God to deepen the sense of need, and prompt the cry, "What must I do to be saved?" Then the hand that has humbled in the dust, lifts up the penitent. The voice that has rebuked sin, and put to shame pride and ambition, inquires with tenderest sympathy, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" DA p. 104.

Praising the instrument says that many in the remnant church have not read the precious counsel given them by Christ from the Most Holy Place. It says that they are copying the popular denominations of a fallen Protestantism in their pursuit of the great false revival Jesus warned us of through Ellen White. The world has walked right into the church and the church doesn’t even know it.

Why do the Protestant churches applaud people? Because the world has long ago lost sight of God and so they applaud one another instead. Likewise, the Protestants have lost sight of God, their faith is gone, and all that is left to thrill them is one another.

Applause is self-exaltation by proxy. I uplift you, I praise you and enrich you and deck you with gold and silver, because by beholding you I become changed into the same image. Why else exalt the Pope or other national leader, some celebrity or sport star? The human mind envisions itself there, the center of attention, drinking in the love and acceptance of multitudes, swimming in money and luxury.

Since the person can’t be worshiped, the next best thing is to forget reality and to imagine itself being worshiped. Praising a man is self-exaltation by proxy.

But God is not like man, who is marinated in sin. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8,9). “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” (Ps. 50:21,22).

If our worship of Him is not from a humble and contrite heart, obeying His word, He distains it. He doesn’t need our applause or flattery. “Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant.” (Ps. 78:36,37).

“Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him.” Matt. 20:20). That thing she desired of Him wasn’t forgiveness or grace to overcome sin. It was for her sons uplifting, and through them, her own self-aggrandizement.

Lose sight of the instrument, and think of Jesus. Praise the Lord. Give glory to God. Make melody to God in your hearts. Talk of the truth. Talk of the Christian's hope, the Christian's heaven. Ev. p. 630.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Drink His blood

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?... It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life…. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” (Jn. 6:53-61,63,66).

This was a hard-hitting confrontation between Jesus and His followers that had turned into a multitude of disciples. They desired to exalt and worship Him only in a way that would suit themselves and please their carnal natures. They sought a kingdom of this earth. So He brought a divisive issue to them to force a decision for Him or against Him. The issue He brought was not on the surface, but at the deepest level.

He must be a Savior from sin, or nothing at all. They must drink in His crucifixion and consume His life of self-sacrificing service. It must be a convicting principle in their minds and hearts. Otherwise, they were not worthy of the kingdom they sought.

We must approach Christ as murderers and rebels and abusers of God. We are all born separate from Him and have spent our lives torturing Him through our service to Satan. But, amazingly, where our abuse and murder of God have abounded, His yearning for us and His grace toward us have much more abounded.

But many, who approach God, don’t think very lowly of themselves. They haven’t been really, really bad—not like some people they know. They would never deny Christ. They never do anything wrong, at least nothing terribly wrong. When they come to the cross, they do so as spectators, not as participants. They stand aghast at the horrible things others did to Christ, but they can never stand the thought that they would ever do such things. This they content themselves with, and pride themselves with.

They are too pure to crucify Christ. They don’t sin real badly. Therefore, they don’t need a real powerfully forgiving Savior. All they need is a lukewarm Savior for their lukewarm sins. Thus, the thieves and the prostitutes will go into the kingdom before them, and they are left shut out.

“But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” (Lk. 13:27-30).

How hard it is for a person rich in outward behavior to enter the kingdom of heaven! “He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick…I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. 9:12,13).

Let us take the risk of rejection and go to the Savior, whose arms are stretched out and pinned back as wide as they can go, enfolding a whole world of sinners to His embrace, by which we may condemn this world of sin, and become heirs of the righteousness which is by faith. (Heb. 11:7).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Come out of the cold

When will we come out of the cold into the acceptance of God? When will we stop keeping Him at a ten foot distance? He is the light and warmth that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Crucify Him!

When I look into the eyes of that kitten I still see unutterable pain. I see a little being who had always loved me seeking my help. I had run over him with my car and burst his little internal organs. I killed him. He lived long enough for me to find him and hold him in my hands. Five seconds later, after a few pants from his little body, blood ran out of his mouth and he expired. His hurting eyes remained open, devoid of the life and joy he had once had. Still it haunts me when I remember that day.

I still feel for that little kitten who died at my hands so long ago. Adam must have felt the same when he saw the first flower fade and fall because of his sin. He must have been rushed back to the day before when he saw the two sheep die, one at his hand and the other at his wife’s.

He saw in the eyes of the docile animals not a trace of anger or revenge. He saw total acceptance of their fate; total trusting in the action of their master. Their will weighed nothing; Adam’s will must be served. They were killed in cold-blooded murder.

Christ brought Adam to that harsh, but necessary moment of sacrifice. Adam must kill the sheep. His hand might be quivering with fear and sorrow; but he must kill the animal. He may resist, he may feel unable, but he was forced to do the unthinkable.

“Slay the animal! Kill it! It’s either it or you! Justice demands it! Do it!” Adam understood the message: “This is what you’ve done because of your sin. Either you take responsibility or I must destroy you.” That voice of authority Adam could not disobey; the issues spoken by His Master’s voice, Adam must heed.

He used the means given him to end the life of that innocent thing, and then had to watch it die, those eyes looking for Adam to save it from the torture it was enduring. All he could do was fall fainting on the suffering animal, weeping for what he had done. Then he had to stand by and see Eve destroy the next innocent life.

In both sinners sin died in the death of those sheep. Both proud, ugly, blame-casting hearts were humbled, their pride blasted to shivers by the full reality of the consequences of disobedience to God. And once the mental torture and angst did its work on their pride, they were acceptable again to Christ. He brought them to full and complete repentance, and then forgave them. The past could not be changed, God and His government were still the new object of Satan’s derision and insults and laughter, but they had found a ransom. Christ had devised a means to bring back His banished that they be not eternally expelled from Him.

The innocent Son of God offers Himself for us. His eternal life for our eternal loss; His joy and peace for our damnation and the chastisement of our peace. But we must crucify Him. We must. We must crucify Him. Then crucify Him! Crucify Him! Our guilty and self-serving hands must take the life of the innocent Son of God. It’s either Him or us. Which is it going to be? If we don’t let Him give up His life for us, then we have no part in Him. Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Then, let the bloody knife fall from our quivering hand and let us fall to our knees sorrowful and responsible and humbled.

Read the gospel accounts. Study the ancient animal sacrificial system. Compare and know that the crucifixion of Christ wasn’t just a historical event; it was for you to relive and to find yourself there slaying the holy One who laid His life down, so that He could pick ours back up. It’s only in His pain and suffering that our proud hearts can be destroyed. It’s only in His destruction that we can ever be rebuilt. Yes, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” (Heb. 9:28). But that one offering echoes and re-echoes down to the end of time, and will be relived throughout eternity.

And it will forever give the same effect it gives today in the decimation of pride, as we cast ourselves and our brilliant crowns at His feet for ever, and ever.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dead to the Testimonies

“I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” (Gal. 2:19).

Maybe it sounds like I am against the Testimonies and Spirit of Prophecy. Yet I have always made my case using the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. It’s the principle Paul used. I, through the Spirit of Prophecy, am dead to the Spirit of Prophecy.

How could Paul use that kind of language? Doesn’t every kingdom divided against itself fall? Yet Paul was so bold about such an assertion! What kind of logic was he using?!

It’s the same kind of reasoning he used in his epistle to the Romans. “But now the righteousness of God without [outside] the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom. 3:21). Is this saying that interwoven into God’s law is the freedom to dispense with it? God forbid. Rather, when we read on we see that within the Law allowance was given for mercy, even toward a broken Law.

What Paul asserts when he says he is dead to the Law is that he was dead to serving the Law. It was only through a valid reconciliation with Jesus that the Lord gave him the power to obey the Law; a power which the Law was powerless to give. By serving the Law instead of God, he had exalted the Law above God and signally removed God from His throne. With God deposed, there the Law sat, master over all. And serving the Law instead of God, Satan had full reign.

But the Lord, in His infinite wisdom throughout eternity, has balanced His authority with mercy in everything He ever did. In the giving of His Ten Commandments He included the elements of mercy and jealous love. “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:5,6).

Mercy is “outside” of the law, according to Romans 3:21. Justice and mercy are counteracting; pure truth and pure grace are, by nature, mutually exclusive. From the Law’s charter, only justice matters; only justice can keep order. Mercy must take a back seat. But perfect love combines them and uses truth and grace for the perfect uplifting and upkeep of order and happiness; and our Creator is a God of perfect self-sacrificing love. The sacrificial economy was God’s provision toward the breaking of His Law. It was part of the law given to Moses, yet was kept separated from the Ten Commandment Law. For mercy and justice to work properly together, they must remain distinct and separate.

Mercy had escaped the pagan Roman world. In the full result of idolatry, transgression had come to the full. (Dan. 8:23). Self-preservation had become the modis operandi. “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” (Rom. 1:28-31).

This spirit had made its way into Israel since the days of Nehemiah. The Maccabean wars are not included into sacred history because they were without God’s leadership and direction through His prophets. The spirit of selfishness was the driving force during those long, dark four centuries before the Messiah came.

The law had become the only leverage to keep the people controlled. It had been embellished with man-made additions to hold the populous bound under the Jewish leadership. They had become slaves again, this time to their own kind. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:31).

The “end thereof” was enslavement under a religious guise. The people accepted it because they had lost sight of God. Lost to faith, they could not discern the human fabrications and hypocrisy. This faith and new freedom God planned to give them with the Messiah. (Gal. 3:23).

Christ’s opening address to the leadership in Nazareth was His shot across the bow to deliver the nation from its self-imposed bondage. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk. 4:18,19).

And He used the divine Law to deliver His people from the man-made one. Jesus lived the Law perfectly and exposed those who dared to change its holy precepts. He brought faith in the true God into the truth. When God’s Law is taught, God becomes involved in man’s thinking again, and thus faith in God springs up in His presence. He brought life back into a dead system. And He left the door of mercy wide open to His enemies who had declared the old falsehoods to be true. His communications were directed to them as well as the people who heard Him gladly. Most of the leadership rejected Him and the truth; but at the close of the nation’s probationary period “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Dan. 9:24;Acts 6:7).

So, now a remnant of priests and people were dead to an old failed system, one “which decayeth and waxeth old” and was “ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). But what about us SDAs at the end of another probationary period? How does our history lay over the Jews’? Or does it? Yes, it does, and fearfully so.

An economic stimulus package is being drummed up to satiate a world driven by greed. Idolatry has taken today’s world by storm, even the religious world, even the Protestant world, and even the Adventist world. Self-preservation has displaced the gospel, and the world’s self-preserving spirit has made its way into the remnant church. The grace of Christ has evaporated from the preaching of the pastors, and the souls of the people are dried up from the constant needling of their unmollified consciences. There is no balm in Gilead to soothe the sin-sick soul.

Its time, once again, to become dead to the current law of falsehood and sin into which transgressors have turned the Testimonies of Jesus. Its time to uplift Christ, the Christ spelled out in those Testimonies for the church and in the Desire of Ages. Cloaked in reproof and correction and instruction in righteousness, those harsh, almost unbearable testimonies bear the stamp of Jesus. Let us find the real Jesus described there. Let us bow to His authoritative voice and seek Him for His grace and acceptance.

Then our eyes will be opened to His mercy and long-suffering. We will see His magnanimity and compassion. We will have sought Him with all our hearts and found Him, and our souls will find rest in finding Him. Through the Law and the Testimonies we will have become dead to serving the Law and the Testimonies that we might serve and live for the Christ found in the Law and the Testimonies. (Rom. 7:4,6,10).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Personless Law

It sorrows me deeply to see the great effort made by Christians in trying to be good when Jesus isn’t the center of attraction, just being good is. I see different emotions in different faces, but it all ties in to acting good and behaving good, just for the sake of behavior or an act. It leads to trying to satisfy people’s judgment and to the protection of reputations. People become the objects of worship, and God is left out of the picture completely. It exalts the strong and destroys the weak. This makes God very angry. (Rom. 1:18).

It leads souls into a bondage unlike what the secular people of the world must deal with. It is worse because it seems so right, when it is empty of the source to be good and right. Jesus is the light that lightens every man that comes into the world. But when He is eclipsed by simply good morale behavior, then the law which was given for life becomes death to us. (Rom. 7:13). With Jesus, the law is safe. With Jesus, we are safe with the law and it is safe with us. Without Jesus as the fullness of glory before our wondering eyes, the law is dangerous to us and to everyone around us. Because, without Jesus we kill ourselves and everyone we meet, thinking we are doing God service. (Jn. 16:2). It’s only a law of love when Jesus is our full focus and we see the Law of God shining out His mercy and justice, grace and truth. “The law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (1Tim. 1:8).

Jesus, the Lamb of God. Jesus burned on the cross under His Father’s wrath; Christ was the Burnt Offering, a sweet savour unto God. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief... Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” (Is. 53:10).

In the atonement the character of God is revealed. The mighty argument of the cross. GC p. 500.

The mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries. In the light that streams from Calvary the attributes of God which had filled us with fear and awe appear beautiful and attractive. Mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power. While we behold the majesty of His throne, high and lifted up, we see His character in its gracious manifestations, and comprehend, as never before, the significance of that endearing title, “Our Father.” GC p.652.

Let’s look into the Bible, to the Law and the testimonies of men moved by the Spirit of God. But let us also look through them to discern the One behind and through them all, their originator and inspiration—the Son of God.

A personless Bible can be worse than no Bible at all. To know the Bible without seeking to know the Person behind it all can be more destructive and useful to Satan than to not have the Bible. The Papacy proved that for 1260 years. And if anyone doesn’t believe that, just wait around a little longer and we will see the horrors of the Papacy again; this time in concert with Protestants who will have the Bible under their arms.

Paul’s fight wasn’t against the law, but against a Personless Law. He wasn’t against the Law of God, but against a law of Moses, and even the Law of God, that wasn’t used to reveal God.

Those whom the devil had deluded into serving him through a personless law battled fiercely and undauntingly against Paul. Because when we do not determinedly keep the true God and His character of self-sacrificing love and grace in the forefront, sin naturally causes our minds to leave the peace and humility that comes with grace, and to decline into self-absorption and self-preservation, even while holding onto the law and the prophets and apostles and Spirit of Prophecy.

It is not only by resistance but by neglect that the soul is destroyed. DA 323.

Then Satan takes advantage of our natural frame of mind to reject God’s Law, and assumes God’s name and moves in to take His place. The devil changes that law to be more palatable to our perverted hearts and then rules over us with an iron fist, and leads the whole world to believe that that is how God rules.

We must find Jesus in every word of scripture—in every psalm, every statute, every event in sacred history. He is its every inspiration. Those words weren’t Bible writers’ words; they weren’t prophets speaking; Jesus was speaking those words.

Christ as manifested to the patriarchs, as symbolized in the sacrificial service, as portrayed in the law, and as revealed by the prophets, is the riches of the Old Testament. Christ in His life, His death, and His resurrection, Christ as He is manifested by the Holy Spirit, is the treasure of the New Testament. Our Saviour, the outshining of the Father’s glory, is both the Old and the New. COL p. 126.

The law is cold and hard. Our hearts need to be touched before we can properly handle stone.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I believe in righteousness by works

It’s true. I am a believer in righteousness by works. But let me explain. I believe in righteousness by God’s works.

When I say this, I don’t mean to be funny or to play with your heart and mind. Its not semantics or theological license. In all seriousness, obedience must be had; misbehavior must go away; sin must be gotten rid of or it will destroy us and everyone we love. If I have the bad habit of slapping you, I need to quit, now! If I’m selling drugs to your child, I need to get stopped at all cost. The law is good, and holy, and just.

Yet, in saying all that, I still believe in righteousness by God’s works—trusting in Him to do the work. In other words, faith must work through God’s power, not I. How does this happen? What are the mechanics?

Jesus gave the greatest offer ever made. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). This was the greatest offer ever made because the greatest need of the human race is righteousness and rest. We can’t naturally seem to have them both; it’s either one or the other. Either we have righteousness and exhaustion, or we have rest with “wasting and destruction in all of our ways.” We naturally gravitate to havoc and chaotic lifestyles because our fallen natures love that kind of environment. We love sin and hate righteousness. We live to please self and distain and complain to lay self down.

It’s not in our natures to deny self, sacrifice self, forget self. But, conversely, it is in our natures to please self, preserve self, remember and serve self. We need help, and we need it desperately. And there is no denying that we are selfishly motivated. From birth we come out like Jacob, grabbing our brother’s heel to get the upper hand on him—born in one-up-manship. The Lord really knows how to teach us about ourselves. David was right on target, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5).

What we need is a new nature, a divine nature, and a strong hand upon us overcoming our propensity to evil. We need to have our consciences wrestled with under the heaviest conviction. We need to have our pride smelted under the hottest love. We need to be delivered from a master who encourages us to please ourselves by a new master who encourages us to be strong to deny self.

We need a savior from sin. He needs to be tender and pitiful, yet strong to uphold equity, and to be unenslaved to sin. He must firmly stand up against every form of greed, appetite, indolence, self-exaltation. And we have such a High Priest, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” who “offered up Himself,” “having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 7:26,27;9:12). “But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb. 9:26).

If we will look and watch Him, we will be drawn to His constant care and love; trusting in our Friend, we will naturally and automatically learn and copy His ways. Through the Spirit we will understand His thoughts and motives, and obtain the mind of Christ. We will be like Him.

Will you trust His word in this and accept His beautiful offer to overcome through friendship with Him? “Will ye also be His disciples?” (Jn. 9:27). Friend, don’t say that learning to trust God is too long of a process. Don’t think you can become good some quicker way. There’s never enough time to do it right the first time; but there is always enough time to do it right the second time. So don't put off the time and effort to talk with Him and start getting acquainted. Accept righteousness by faith as the only way to real happiness.

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A world of monks is on its way

“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God….I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (1Cor. 15:56;Gal. 2:19-21).

Case One: Paula determined with all her willpower that she would be a good girl. She strove and strove, and when finally invited to join an extremely conservative group of SDAs, she jumped at it and threw herself into the work of overcoming sin and of stifling the voice of temptation, working hard to purge herself of her fallen nature.

She really got down to business because she genuinely hated how self was destroying the happiness of her marriage and little family. She caught a glimpse of freedom from self and yearned for it. And as extreme as this all sounds, she got points with Jesus for it; not because she dove so headlong into trying to become perfect, which is forbidden in the Bible, but because she has a spark of hope in God and His love.

Perfectionism, forbidden in the Holy Bible?! Most definitely! But “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!” (Matt. 5:48). Whoever uses that scripture to support perfectionism needs to go back to Bible101. The bottom line—and let it be seen perfectly clear—the Lord God wasn’t the center of focus among the Jews of Christ’s day, nor was Jesus the center of focus at that perfectionist Adventist compound. Self was the central mission there, and their perfectionism receives a promise of divine retribution, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18).

The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. Desire of Ages, p. 324.

So Paula found her new-found lifestyle to be a futile and endless round of trying hard to stamp out the sin in her nature and to finally please God. Eventually the futility and frustration brought her to a new conclusion.

When it dawned on her what a fool she had been talked into becoming, her pride, which the oppressively austere religion had never come close to uprooting, rose up in revolt and with all her Irish ire, she vomited that abomination of desolation out of her psyche and life, and ran headlong into another extreme—the growing SDA movement of liberal, fist-shaking, law-denying religion of anti-Adventist activists.

Now Satan wasn’t as happy as when he had her gnashing her teeth to overcome sin, but she was still separate from Jesus and the devil rests satisfied hoping that he can get her back into that galling yoke. Nevertheless, despite the activists’ greatest promises of grace and holiness and fun through freedom from restraint, she is still in a desperate search for peace in her soul. She has simply joined another group of lost souls.

What was really happening? What is the real root of the problem here? A knowledge of God’s love was denied Paula all through her childhood and the new self-imposed, extreme, religious fad; and He is still denied her, even in her new freedom from law. He has not become her full focus. She has not fallen broken at Jesus’ feet because of His undying love for her. Her destructive human nature remains intact and in full force.

Case Two: It was an upstanding self-supporting school, full of upstanding young people, being trained to get involved in a world-wide mission to start similar schools and to make disciples of all nations. But they failed a vital test of discipleship—Jesus, His life and death, His love and grace, was removed from their primary focus. A substitute, subtle in its justification and, by far the least likely candidate, had taken His place—Ellen White and the Spirit of Prophecy. Impossible to pierce with conviction, its sanctimonious bulwarks are impenetrable.

The most steadfast among them were being drained, and eventually would be drained, of tenderness and life. Their form of education, in all its dignity, discouraged interaction between male and female students. Childlike, holy love will lead to warm contact. Even science is seeing the vital place of the warm touch as a necessity for life. “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” (Deut. 32:31).

Yet, while denying Christ His worthy place at the center of attraction through its righteousness by works system of training, they boast of having “true education.” “Christ Jesus... is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1Cor. 1:30,29).

What do we really get when we have an education without Christ and His gracious love lifted up and glorified at the center? We get a Christless education, a Christless religion; we get a Christless law—legalism. And this can happen so silently and insidiously.

A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. DA p. 280.

The True Witness says of a cold, lifeless, Christless church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16). Mark the following words: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Here is represented a people who pride themselves in their possession of spiritual knowledge and advantages. But they have not responded to the unmerited blessings that God has bestowed upon them. They have been full of rebellion, ingratitude, and forgetfulness of God; and still He has dealt with them as a loving, forgiving father deals with an ungrateful, wayward son. They have resisted His grace, abused His privileges, slighted His opportunities, and have been satisfied to sink down in contentment, in lamentable ingratitude, hollow formalism, and hypocritical insincerity. With Pharisaic pride they have vaunted themselves till it has been said of them, “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” 1SM 357.

Truths Ellen White Had Presented Since 1844.—At this meeting I bore testimony that the most precious light had been shining forth from the Scriptures in the presentation of the great subject of the righteousness of Christ connected with the law, which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation. This was not new light to me, for it had come to me from higher authority for the last forty-four years, and I had presented it to our people by pen and voice in the testimonies of His Spirit. But very few had responded except by assent to the testimonies borne upon this subject. There was altogether too little spoken and written upon this great question. The discourses of some might be correctly represented as like the offering of Cain—Christless. 3SM p.168.

Impact of Jesus’ Love on the Speaker’s Heart—There have been entire discourses, dry and Christless, in which Jesus has scarcely been named. The speaker’s heart is not subdued and melted by the love of Jesus. He dwells upon dry theories. No great impression is made. The speaker has not the divine unction, and how can he move the hearts of the people? We need to repent and be converted--yes, the preacher converted. The people must have Jesus lifted up before them, and they must be entreated to “Look and live.”—3SM 184.

How is this system of death any different from Roman Catholicism, which quietly moved into the church under the radar in the early years of Christianity through the asceticism of Egyptian paganism? Through purely human effort, those poor folks hid themselves away in caves of the wilderness or laid out under the burning sun of the deserts, seeking to purge themselves of the ugly, painful emptiness that Roman hedonism had left upon their souls.

As if the ransom of the Redeemer was not sufficient without their own sufferings, those who practiced asceticism imposed appalling torments upon themselves. They undermined the doctrine of Christ’s full and sufficient atonement for sin. Processions were formed, relics displayed, and incense burned before the tomb of some exalted ascetic.

Monasticism followed on the heels of asceticism. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) was prominent among the early apostates because of his perverted teachings. He was followed by his pupil Tatian, who in turn taught Clement (A.D. 190), a founder of the ecclesiastical school at Alexandria.

Clement declared he would hand down the gospel mixed with heathen philosophy. But it remained for Origen, Clement’s pupil, who mutilated himself, to start the glorification of celibacy.

Monasticism is not a product of Christianity. It was imported from non-Christian religions. Christianity saw it first introduced from Egypt, evidently coming from Buddhism. There were two classes of monks. The first, the anchorites, sought to live alone in the gloomiest and wildest spots in the wilderness. The second class, monks, evading the solitary life, gathered into communities called monasteries.
Truth Triumphant, chap. 5.

Thus, when the church had fully descended into corruption, it adopted the world-wide pagan practice as official policy, that righteousness by asceticism and monasticism must become institutionalized as the driving force of the path to God. The hopeless, Godless temple had long before lost its first love, and tried to satisfy the infinite, God-sized hole in their hearts through endless vigils and scourgings to wrestle down the man of sin in them. The church had become so ignorant of God’s love, so dark, so barren of a heart broken and contrite in deference to His love, that it had turned from legalism to spiritualism. Now it was completely cut off from God. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1Tim. 4:1-3).

Ignatius Loyola, the father of the Jesuits, passed through the same galling bondage to perfecting the soul without learning of Jesus.

Reflecting that he was a soldier of Christ, that great Monarch who had gone forth to subjugate all the earth, he resolved to eat no other food, wear no other raiment than his King had done, and endure the same hardships and vigils. Laying aside his plume, his coat of mail, his shield and sword, he donned the cloak of the mendicant. "Wrapped in sordid rags," says Duller, "an iron chain and prickly girdle pressing on his naked body, covered with filth, with un-combed hair and untrimmed nails," he retired to a dark mountain in the vicinity of Manressa, where was a gloomy cave, in which he made his abode for some time. There he subjected himself to all the penances and mortifications of the early anchorites whose holiness he emulated. He wrestled with the evil spirit, talked to voices audible to no ear but his own, fasted for days on end, till his weakness was such that he fell into a swoon, and one day was found at the entrance of his cave, lying on the ground, half dead. The history of the Jesuits, chap.1.

As early as the 4th century, similar events were recorded when Egyptian asceticism had moved into the church.

Such were the scenes related to Vigilantius by Sulpicius, if not actually witnessed by him; and he could not remain blind to the fact that his patron [Sulpicius] was neither happier nor better for his visit to the bishop of Tours. After his return home, the image of Martin haunted the sensitive historian [Sulpicius]: he was pursued by the recollection of the ascetic prelate sleeping on the cold earth, with nothing but ashes strewed beneath him, and covered with sackcloth only; refusing a softer bed, or warmer clothing, even in severe illness; declaring that a Christian ought to die on ashes; feeding on the most unwholesome food, and denying himself every indulgence; praying in the most irksome posture, forcing sleep from his eyes, and exposing himself to the extremes of heat and cold, hunger and thirst. The imagination of Sulpicius dwelt on what he had seen and heard at Marmoutier, until he believed that heaven would be closed upon him, unless he should practice the same austerities. The love of the marvelous, the habit of dwelling upon tales of wonders and of practicing ascetic austerities, had seized the employer of Vigilantius [Sulpicius]. On the other hand Vigilantius saw in the system a form of religion without the simplicity of the gospel of Christ.

Thus Vigilantius saw on one side vainglorious exaltation, spiritual pride, and pretension to miraculous power; and on the other side, a false humility and prostration of the understanding, both growing out of the same mistaken system of asceticism: a system which undermined the doctrine of Christ’s full and sufficient sacrifice, and assigned an undue value to the inflictions and performances of men like Martin of Tours: and which he probably foresaw would in the end elevate them in the minds of weak brethren, to mediatorial thrones, and render them little less than objects of divine worship….

And, following that encounter with Sulpicius, later Vigilintius met “Saint” Jerome, and this description was given:

A narrow bypath leading off from the street, at the spot where the tomb of King Archelaus formerly stood, conducted the traveler to the cell of Jerome; here he found the ascetic clad in a vestment so coarse and sordid, that its very vileness bore the stamp of spiritual pride, and seemed to say, “Stand off, my wearer is holier than thou.” The face of the monk was pale and haggard. He had been slowly recovering from a severe illness, and was wasted to a shadow. Frequent tears had plowed his cheeks with deep furrows; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; all the bones of his face were sharp and projecting. Long fasting, habitual mortification, and the chagrin which perpetual disputation occasions, had given an air of gloominess to his countenance, which accorded but ill with his boast, that his cell to him was like an arbor in the Garden of Eden.” Truth triumphant, chap. 5.

For 1260 years, this abomination of desolation laid the church waste, as prophesied by Daniel. “In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes.” (Dan. 8:23-25). “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Dan. 7:25). “And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (Rev. 13:2).

So we see in asceticism and monasticism the human effort to remove the emptiness caused by the separation from the love of God, rather than trusting that God will accept them, and coming to Him through the effort spent on obtaining an acquaintance with Jesus.

And here is what the Bible says about trying to overcome sin without Jesus. “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).

John’s commentaries on the Revelation, which are his gospel and epistles which he penned after being freed from Patmos, provide invaluable interpretation of the third angel’s message which he saw while in vision on the island.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1Jn. 5:11-13).

John was speaking of Christ’s righteousness by faith versus Satan’s substitute of a righteousness by human works. When the Adventist champions of holy living point their finger at the Pope, they need to be aware that three fingers are pointing back at them.

A dire pain for the lack of Christ, His righteousness and love, pervades Christianity—the Evangelical and formal Protestant landscapes alike, and Adventist have fallen in with their Protestant neighbors. Like a dull smog it is settling on the churches and people, stimulating to the flesh, but lethally toxic in its results.

It would be well for SDAs, to pay special heed to a statement by EGW.

Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin. DA p.35.

To SDAs the ax is laid to the root of the trees. “Search the [testimonies]; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you…. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.” (Jn. 5:39-42,45).

Rather than trusting in Moses; rather than trusting in Buddha or Peter, Oprah Winfrey, Alice Bailey, or Chuck Swindoll; rather than trusting in even Ellen White for eternal life, let us trust in “Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Jn. 17:3;Acts 4:12). Buddhas and Oprahs and Moses and Ellen White never loved the whole world; they aren
t the parent and Creator of the world. They never sacrificed themselves for the world. So they haven’t proven that they love me; neither have they tried to claim that. They haven’t made the offer of Christ with arms nailed wide open to me, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

Let us look through the law and the testimonies and past them to their divine Originator. Let us not eat the banana peelings; let’s peel them back and eat that which they protect and halo, the real meat which satisfies the soul.

Let us heed His word through His human agents given in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy; however, their words will condemn us if we don’t look to Him to whom they point, Jesus, the Son of God, “a tender plant” who “lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” “because of truth and meekness and righteousness,” made subservient to the law and “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Is. 53:2;Ps. 45:8,4;Gal. 4:4;Phil. 2:8).

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:20,21).

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Look and live

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

This open face Paul refers to stands opposed to “the vail” that “is upon their [the Jew’s] heart.” “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” (vs. 14,15). And, referring again to that veil, a few sentences later Paul says that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (2Cor. 4:4).

Here we see the power and successfulness of Satan’s best tool, idolatry. Through thousands of forms, in objects and practices, this enemy of the everlasting gospel has presented itself. Thousands of distractions to side-tracked the soul, subtle and transparent, have been laid in the path of the unsuspecting children of Adam. The road to forgetfulness of God has been broad, and the vast multitudes have gone in thereat.

This is the science of damnation. Simply give something self-satisfying to the sinner, let it touch the deepest recessed of his brain in the form of pleasure, and he will faithfully follow after that forever, all the while it shaping his thought patterns, and thus his character.

It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence. Man will never rise higher than his standard of purity or goodness or truth. If self is his loftiest ideal, he will never attain to anything more exalted. Rather, he will constantly sink lower and lower. The grace of God alone has power to exalt man. Left to himself, his course must inevitably be downward. GC p.555.

Similar to the science of damnation is the science of salvation. If we want to ever overcome our weak and corrupted human nature, we must place before our mind’s eye the beauty of holiness shown in Jesus. He must be our focus. Written words aren’t enough; principles delineated ever so deeply and comprehensively will never give us the fullness of truth and power, as will one scene of Jesus’ life or death. The Holy Spirit will come and paint us a picture of Jesus if we Him seek with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

What this world needs today is more than a picture painted. What it needs is more than a motion picture; even one with a sound track. What this world needs today is a living Savior, in a living scene, with His thoughts flooding ours, His love penetrating our dead hearts. We need to feel His feelings; we must understand His burden, the ache in His heart to break the spell Satan had cast on humanity, the yearning for all night communion with His Father.

We don’t need to re-read the gospel accounts, as if they were simply history relegated to the fiction side of the library. We need to re-live His experiences, both in the New and Old Testaments. We need to see Him and unite with Him. This is why it was all written down. “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1Cor. 10:11). We need to follow the Lamb around whithersoever He goeth.

It was thus that the early disciples gained their likeness to the dear Saviour. When those disciples heard the words of Jesus, they felt their need of Him. They sought, they found, they followed Him. They were with Him in the house, at the table, in the closet, in the field. They were with Him as pupils with a teacher, daily receiving from His lips lessons of holy truth. They looked to Him, as servants to their master, to learn their duty. Those disciples were men “subject to like passions as we are.” James 5:17. They had the same battle with sin to fight. They needed the same grace, in order to live a holy life. SC p.72.

Even though we don’t have the same advantage of physical contact with Christ as the first disciples had, through the Holy Spirit we still have great advantages. As we read the Bible we slowly begin to see the matchless charms of Jesus lift off the pages and come to life; we see that the holiness and love and grace, that were uniquely His, are the only panacea for all of this world’s ills. The words of scripture become more and more believable. Soon, if we continue to follow after Jesus, the stories begin to form pictures in our minds. Details begin to take shape that the Holy Spirit pulls from elsewhere in the law, prophets, psalms, and epistles. In the hands of the Spirit of truth, the Bible becomes a living document, and we are able to discern the spiritual things resonating from it. The thoughts and feelings and intents of the heart of Jesus and all His followers from Abel to John begin to fill in the structure provided by the written document carved in stone.

The leper demonstrates the powerful principle of appropriating scenes of salvation. When the leper heard of Jesus healing other lepers, in his desperation to be healed all he could do was see himself standing before the great Healer ridding him of his horrid disease. Please join me in watching him in the scene below:

The leper is guided to the Saviour. Jesus is teaching beside the lake, and the people are gathered about Him. Standing afar off, the leper catches a few words from the Saviour’s lips. He sees Him laying His hands upon the sick. He sees the lame, the blind, the paralytic, and those dying of various maladies rise up in health, praising God for their deliverance. Faith strengthens in his heart. He draws nearer and yet nearer to the gathered throng. The restrictions laid upon him, the safety of the people, and the fear with which all men regard him are forgotten. He thinks only of the blessed hope of healing.
He is a loathsome spectacle. The disease has made frightful inroads, and his decaying body is horrible to look upon. At sight of him the people fall back in terror. They crowd upon one another in their eagerness to escape from contact with him. Some try to prevent him from approaching Jesus, but in vain. He neither sees nor hears them. Their expressions of loathing are lost upon him. He sees only the Son of God. He hears only the voice that speaks life to the dying. Pressing to Jesus, he casts himself at His feet with the cry, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”
Jesus replied, “I will; be thou made clean,” and laid His hand upon him. Matthew 8:3, R. V.
Immediately a change passed over the leper. His flesh became healthy, the nerves sensitive, the muscles firm. The rough, scaly surface peculiar to leprosy disappeared, and a soft glow, like that upon the skin of a healthy child, took its place.
DA p.263.

If we will ever know the victory over sin, it will only be through beholding Him “who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” (Num. 21:8). “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever” “looketh upon” “Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:14,15). Where there is no vision, we perish.